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America stands with countries against China's 'bullying behaviour': US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin

Ahead of a bilateral meeting with his Australian counterpart, Austin highlighted "troubling" PRC coercion from the East China Sea to the South China Sea, and in the entire Indo-Pacific region.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee Canberra Published on: July 29, 2023 8:40 IST
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin
Image Source : AP US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin

Ahead of his biltaeral talks in Australia, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday said that America stands with countries that are fighting against China's 'bullying behaviour'. His remarks came as the bilateral meeting in Canberra was aimed at countering China's growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Before his meeting with his Australian counterpart Richard Marles, Austin said that both countries shared concerns about repeated violations of international laws by Beijing over peaceful resolution of disputes and non-coercion, AP reported.

"We’ve seen troubling PRC coercion from the East China Sea, to the South China Sea, to right here in the Southwest Pacific. We’ll continue to support our allies and partners as they defend themselves from bullying behaviour," Austin said in an interaction with media.

Several trade barriers have been imposed on Australian exports of coal, wine, barley, beef and seafood by China, seen as a punitive reaction amid deteriorating relations between the two following the Australian government calling for an inquiry into Beijing's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, the relations between Canberra and Beijing appear to be thawing since the change in the Australian government. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is reportedly planning state visits to both the United States and China before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the latest meet involving Austin and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will focus on a deal to provide Australia with a fleet of submarines powered by US nuclear technology. 

Australia will buy three Virginia-class submarines from America and build five of a new submarine in cooperation with the UK, under the AUKUS partnership - an acronym for Australia, the UK and the US.

Albanese said he remained “very confident” that the United States would deliver the three submarines.

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